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O'Connor To Remain On Supreme Court For Gay Related Case


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O'Connor To Remain On Supreme Court For Gay Related Case

by Paul Johnson 365Gay.com Washington Bureau Chief

Posted: November 3, 2005 8:00 pm ET

(Washington) The Senate will begin hearings Jan. 9 on Judge Samuel Alito's appointment to the Supreme Court.

The move was pushed by Democrats - a rejection of President Bush's call for a final confirmation vote by year's end - and was supported by Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

"It's simply wasn't possible to accommodate the schedule that the White House wanted," said Specter. He outlined a schedule that envisions five days of hearings, followed by a vote in committee on Jan. 17 and the full Senate on Jan. 20.

That means Sandra Day O'Connor, a moderate and the justice Alito would replace if confirmed, will remain on the high court for a case involving the Pentagon's "don't ask, don't tell" policy." (story) The court is scheduled to take up the case over whether colleges can bar military recruiters from their campuses on Dec. 6.

Last November the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the Solomon Amendment, a 1994 federal law requiring law schools to give the military full access or else lose their funding.

The case involved 25 law schools who argued the statute infringed on the free-speech rights of the schools all of which had barred on-campus recruiting because of "don't ask, don't tell". (story)

Each of the colleges have nondiscrimination policies barring any recruiter - government or private - from campus if the organization unfairly bases hiring on race, gender or sexual orientation.

The Bush administration appealed the ruling to the Supreme Court.

Justice O'Connor must be a member of the court for her votes to count on any cases. If she participates in oral arguments and then retires before the rulings are issued, the court could order re-hearings, hand down decisions or decide on another course at its own discretion. Any 4-4 ruling leaves the decision of the lower court intact and does not create a precedent.

Conservatives eager to replace O'Connor and push the court to the right have swung behind Alito's nomination, and in making the appointment the president urged the Senate to vote this year.

Democrats, citing a need to review the voluminous record that Alito has compiled in 15 years as a judge on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, favor waiting until the new year for the beginning of hearings. The 55-year-old judge has written an estimated 300 rulings and participated in roughly 1,500 cases.

Despite his conservative judicial record, Alito argued in 1971 that sodomy laws should be overturned. The US Supreme Court finally did overturn laws against consensual gay sex in 2003. (story)

Alito's position on the issue was made public Wednesday in newly released documents. (story)

A report prepared by a Princeton University undergraduate task force, chaired by Alito while he was a student, recommended the decriminalization of sodomy, said that discrimination against gays in hiring ''should be forbidden," and accused the CIA and the FBI of invading the privacy of citizens.

''We sense a great threat to privacy in modern America," Alito wrote in a foreword to the report, in 1971. ''We all believe that privacy is too often sacrificed to other values; we all believe that the threat to privacy is steadily and rapidly mounting; we all believe that action must be taken on many fronts now to preserve privacy."

The report was obtained from the Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library by the Boston Globe. It was issued by Alito and 16 other Princeton students.

©365Gay.com 2005


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